In the days before streaming, good ol’ fashioned channel surfing exposed the kid sis and me to a variety of movies (some good, many mediocre, and a few really terrible ones starring Steven Seagal). We first saw the second half of Clue (1985) on Comedy Central one evening while I was babysitting. The lack of parents in the immediate vicinity probably explained how we got away with watching the flick, and although a few jokes whizzed over our tender, young heads, the slapstick and sight gags kept us glued to the couch, even during commercial breaks.
We were also huge murder mystery buffs, having devoured Conan Doyle and Christie throughout middle school, and we regularly teased our brains playing (and sometimes cheating at) the eponymous board game. After our initial truncated viewing, during which we sobbed with laughter, we wanted more. Fortunately, Comedy Central had a repeat showing, enabling us to see the entire film the next day. And it was So. Much. Fun. As summarized on its IMDb page: “Six guests are invited to a strange house and must cooperate with the staff to solve a murder mystery.”
Continue reading “Comedy, in the Conservatory, with the Candlestick || Clue”
There was really no other movie I could have written about this week. What can I say about Star Wars? That it’s the movie(s) I most associate with my father? That John Williams’ soaring, celestial score is practically imprinted on my genes? Or perhaps I should admit how, even if I wrote 100 posts on this film, I would still not be able to say all that I want to about that galaxy far, far away…
If I’m being honest, I can’t recall the first time I watched Star Wars with my father. It was just always THERE. Every Christmas, Birthday, and Father’s Day, Dad would inevitably receive a Darth Vader-themed present from my sister and I. He had shelves full of mugs, figures, books, and novelty-items (a lightsaber pen, for example) featuring the Dark Lord. The reason why Star Wars had always been with us, my mom later explained, was because it had always been Dad’s “thing.”
I joke that without Star Wars, I wouldn’t exist. When it debuted in 1977, mom and dad went to the theatre for their first official (solo) date. This went well, so they had another, and another, until finally they had me (there was some other stuff that happened in between). Long after a farm boy, a princess, and a scoundrel first traversed the galaxy, the Force remained strong in my family. And it continues to, even though my father is no longer with us on this particular blue planet. As I near the fourth anniversary of his passing, it only feels right to share my thoughts on Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope. As summarized on its IMDb page: “Luke Skywalker joins forces with a Jedi Knight, a cocky pilot, a Wookiee and two droids to save the galaxy from the Empire’s world-destroying battle-station, while also attempting to rescue Princess Leia from the evil Darth Vader.”
Continue reading ““The Force Will Be With You. Always.” || A New Hope”
Around the time that I turned 10, I was on a quixotic quest: finding a sport in which I did not feel like a clumsy giraffe. My height was well-suited for basketball and volleyball, but I never took to them. Mastery of the games’ mechanics was beyond my elementary-school patience and, being of a capricious nature, I abandoned these athletic pursuits for artistic ones. It was not until my freshman year of college when the desire to do something physical once more reared its head. Why? Because I was presented with the opportunity to do something of which I, as a child who loved swash-buckling, had longed dreamed: Fencing.
As I learned the basics of swordplay, I began to see myself less as a graceless stork, and more as a nimble combatant, whose height gave her a greater reach and deeper lunge than her opponents. My instructors were patient as they led us through our drills, but when I clashed with them during practice matches, they did not hold back (actually I’m sure they did, it just REALLY did not feel like it). They would spring forward with disarming (pun intended) speed, and always five moves ahead of their students. At the end of my first year, I felt like a Jedi padawan, with much to learn, but with a new-found confidence in myself that would serve me well as I began adult-ing.
Inspired by my enthusiastic reports, my father found a fencing salon back east, and he and I would spar with each other during breaks. I remember one occasion where the snow blanketed our yard, gleaming as white as our fencing uniforms, our breath visible as it puffed out from the mesh of our masks. Thanks to my father, who had first shown me classic movies like Scaramouche (1952), movies that kick-started my imagination and a desire for thrilling heroics, I had found a zeal for swordplay that eventually overwhelmed my reluctance towards physical recreation.
As summarized on the film’s IMDb page: “In France during the late 18th Century, a man sets out to avenge the death of his friend at the hands of a master swordsman.”
Continue reading “Buckle and Swash || Scaramouche”
Some films are like coming home; this home sits at the end of a dark, dank alley.
We know the characters so well, they become family; this family is host to a killer.
And the script is imprinted upon our memory until the dialogue drips from our lips without thought, for indeed, they have become our own thoughts.
One of these films for me is Laura (1944). Like the eponymous heroine, this elegantly crafted Film Noir leaves an indelible impression with every viewing. As summarized on its IMDb page: “A police detective falls in love with the woman whose murder he is investigating.”
Directed by one of the “Old Hollywood” greats, Otto Preminger, Laura is a classic ‘whodunit’? A beautiful dame has been killed, a gumshoe-with-gumption starts asking questions, skeletons rattle in their proverbial closets, and then the first act ends, and nothing is what it seemed.
Remember, spoilers are tagged in blue.
Continue reading ““Murder is my favorite crime” || Laura”
The backstabbing, the compromises, the pleading, the tears, the struggle… the DRAMA. In a word (
two words): American Politics. And with such heightened emotions playing out upon a national stage, why wouldn’t you set it to music? No, this week’s entry is not Hamilton, but that other tuneful tale about American history: 1776.
As summarized on the IMDb page: “a 1972 musical retelling [by Sherman Edwards] of the American Revolution’s political struggle in the Continental Congress to declare independence.”
Continue reading “Sit Down, John: The Music and Mythos of 1776”